"Don't be mad at him, Nicole" she said, as she drew 3 cards from the Rummy deck (she was only supposed to draw 2...but Grandma was a notorious card-cheat and always tried to slip in an extra card here and there, and I never had the heart to call her to task for it).
"I'm not MAD..." I said, drawing two cards and laying down a match to her Jacks on the vibrant table cloth that she had sewn out of fabric remnants years before.
"I just can't believe he actually DID it...I mean, what was he THINKING?!?"
She fumbled with the cards in her tiny hands, trying to draw out a small run in diamonds and lay them on the table.
"Koff meir dumma, eh?" she exclaimed, clucking her tongue. I smiled at the foreign slang that I had grown up hearing from the diminutive woman that was my Grandmother, and could feel a pang of sadness in my heart because I knew that I was only dreaming...and I miss her.
She seemed so real, sitting there across from me...I could feel the intensity of her little blue eyes that always seemed to carry the spark of life in them even up until the end.
She reached across the table and put her hand upon my arm, and I knew that there would be tears in those eyes for a moment as we both choked up a bit, realizing this for what it was...a brief moment together again...more than just a dream...a message.
"He's weak, Nicole," she said. 'I always knew he'd do this...I told him all the time that I knew he'd go whoring the first chance he'd get and be stupid."
I laughed through my tears, hearing her speak so matter-of-factly about it all.
"He should have died first, you know," she said. "I always hoped that I wasn't the one to go first...I'm a strong woman. I could take it. He's weak. He can't be alone. He can't take it that I'm gone, that's all it is. He doesn't care anymore...and he's lonely."
"I understand that, Grandma," I said. "And I'm trying to remember him the way he used to be. But it's sad...first I lost you...and then I lost him, but he's still here. I don't know what hurts more."
She sniffed for a moment and wiped her eyes, then discarded two cards when she thought I wasn't looking.
We didn't talk much after that, but the dream didn't end. Not right away. I let her play on until she beat me, holding cards in my hand that I could have laid down many times, just to let her win.
When I woke up, I didn't know whether to be happy or sad. I don't know if I believe in ghosts or not, but I know that it wasn't just a dream.
In the end, I guess I felt good inside...I'm still upset about Grandpa, but at this point I'm resigned to just try and keep the thoughts of what used to be in my heart and even though it's sad that things will never be the same again, that at least I had that to remember. And just knowing that there might be times in the future when, out of nowhere, a dream might happen to come to me when I need it the most. I look forward to it...just playing cards with Grandma made me feel like everything will be all right.